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Study in Revelation

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  1. Study in Revelation Presentation 12

  2. The Fall Of Babylon Chap 17v1-19v5 Presentation 12

  3. Introduction In this section the judgement of Babylon is fully and finally dealt with. Remember that Babylon describes the world as a centre of seduction at any moment in history. As such it is judged throughout history. John’s readers would have identified Rome as the Babylon of their day. Presentation 12

  4. The Harlot And The Scarlet Beast [17:1-6] The spirit of seduction is characterised as a prostitute [cf. Prov. 2:12-19, 5:7] whose seductive allurements mesmerise those she influences. Her influence is universal and so she is described here as ‘sitting upon many waters’. John is taken to see the woman from a different viewpoint - a wilderness context. The intention is to reveal the true character of this alluring women. All of the make up is removed! Presentation 12

  5. The Harlot And The Scarlet Beast [17:1-6] This woman stands in sharp contrast to the woman of 12:1 [the church, whose beauty is the beauty of holiness]. She is not the enemy of the dragon and enjoys a close relationship with the beast on which she sits- seduction and deception go hand in hand. The beast is covered with blasphemous names cf. the divine titles of the Roman emperors. The woman herself is clothed in luxurious garments. But clothes do not hide her purpose, the golden cup she holds promising fulfilment and satisfaction is deceptive, for upon examination its contents are full of her gross wickedness and corruption. Presentation 12

  6. The Harlot And The Scarlet Beast [17:1-6] The external senses of men are attracted to her but the intoxicating, debasing and dehumanising spirit she offers ironically provides them with a decreasing sense of satisfaction. She appears to be a great lady but the name on her forehead disabuses those who have eyes to see cf. v5. Not content with her own wickedness, she is the mother of prostitutes spawning her abominations over the face of the earth. Presentation 12

  7. The Harlot And The Scarlet Beast [17:1-6] Tacitus described Rome as the place where ‘all the horrible and shameful things in the world congregate and find a home.’ The description reaches its climax as we learn that the woman was intoxicated with the blood of God’s people. She got her ‘kicks’ from their death. This was the great source of pleasure to her. Little wonder John was astonished v6! Presentation 12

  8. The Harlot’s Destruction [17:7-18] But heaven is not surprised by the depths of her wickedness. The mystery of first the beast and then the woman is revealed to John. The beast ‘was and is not and is about to come up out of the abyss.’ There is a studied parody on the Lamb here [1:18, 2:8]. This Satanically inspired power, having received a death stroke returns, to hurl himself with renewed fury against the forces of God [13:3, 12, 14]. Throughout history, wave upon wave of persecution arises. The reason that unregenerate men marvel is that they think this spirit will go on forever but the comfort to the saints is that the beast will go at last to destruction. Presentation 12

  9. The Harlot’s Destruction [17:7-18] In v9-14 we are provided with clues to the identity of the beast as it manifested itself in John’s vision. The seven heads of the best are first identified as the seven hills on which the woman is sitting. The first century reader would understand this to be a reference to Rome, which was built upon seven hills. The seven heads of the beast are also seven kings, five of whom have fallen, one is, and one is yet to come. Some identify the seven kings as Roman emperors. Presentation 12

  10. The Harlot’s Destruction [17:7-18] Others point to a succession of Empires, Egypt, Nineveh, Babylon, Persia and Greece as the five that have fallen, Rome as the present kingdom and the one to come the Christian Empire which began with Constantine or alternatively a collective title for all the antichristian governments between the fall of Rome and the final empire of the antichrist [Hendriksen and Ladd]. This leads us to the heart of the mystery. The beast is the eighth king but also one of the seven. Presentation 12

  11. The Harlot’s Destruction [17:7-18] The eighth can be viewed as the antichrist who is one of the seven in the sense that the spirit of the antichrist is presently at work in the world. The ten kings of v12 may represent the spirit of the beast in human rulers. The comparative brevity of their rule is in view. They will put their power at the beast’s disposal. They are willing collaborators in the pursuit of their goal - the overthrow of the Lamb - but will be defeated in their purpose. The beast will be overcome because he comes up against One to whom all others will become ultimately subordinate. The specific role of those who accompany the Lamb in battle is not discussed. Presentation 12

  12. The Harlot’s Destruction [17:7-18] The angel continues his interpretation in v15 with particular reference to the prostitute. She is seated on the one hand on the waters of the people and on the other on the beast. Her seductive performance does not please the beast. We begin to see, that the alliance of evil powers against God is not as united as we might think for, amongst themselves, there exists disunity and disagreement. Evil has within it the seeds of self destruction. Indeed, we are given insight into the way in which God can use evil to accomplish his sovereign purpose cf. v17 ‘God put it into their hearts to accomplish his purpose.’ Presentation 12

  13. Babylon Declared Desolate [18:1-8] In chap 18 we have a detailed account of the destruction of the spirit of Babylon which has characterised so many empire capitals including Rome. [cf. the fall of Tyre, Ezek. 26-28; Babylon, Isa. chs 13,14 21, Jer. chs 50-51; Nineveh, Nahum.] The once proud city becomes the haunt of demonic spirits and unclean creatures. The picture conveyed is one of absolute desolation! The reason for her collapse is given in v3, [cf. Gibbon’s ‘Rise and Decline of the Roman Empire’] which touches upon some of this. Presentation 12

  14. Babylon Declared Desolate [18:1-8] John hears a call to separation in v4 cf. Isa. 52:11 Jer. 51:45. One writer describes this as a call to ‘spiritual withdrawal from Vanity Fair’. The separation for the Christian will not always be physical, else we would all be monastics, but ideological. Babylon has shed the blood of the saints. She is now about to reap in kind what she has sown cf. Jer. 50:29. Rome proudly saw herself as mistress of the world beyond the possibility of personal loss or sorrow. How wrong she was. [cf. Isa. 47:7-8 with reference to Babylon]. Presentation 12

  15. Lament Of Kings, Merchants, And Seamen [18:9-20] Babylon’s loss will be mourned not for her own sake but only for what others were able to get out of her. The great trade that once flowed into Rome is now stopped. They are astounded that judgement could fall so suddenly [cf. Belshazzar’s feast... Dan. 5:30 ‘that very night’]. The Gk. word for woe ‘ouia’ is onomatopoeic. The church in heaven is encouraged in v20 to rejoice because God the righteous Judge has turned back the evidence laid against believers and has in turn brought judgement against the accuser himself. Presentation 12

  16. Babylon Destroyed [18:21-24] A strong angel casts a millstone into the sea to illustrate the fate of Babylon. She will disappear forever! The word translated ‘with such violence’ appears as a cognate verb in Mk. 5:13 to describe the way in which the herd of swine rushed down the steep bank into the sea. In this way the suddenness and spectacular nature of the judgement is stressed. Where there was once a bustle of sound and an abundance of light there is now silence and darkness- the end of an empire! Presentation 12

  17. Hymn Of Vindication [19:1-5] The hallelujah chorus of 19:1 ff. is the response of the redeemed to the injunction of 18:20 to rejoice. God is and should be praised for his righteous judgements. The word ‘Hallelujah’ is only found in these few verses of the NT. stressing that it is a cause for great rejoicing that evil is brought to an end, to trouble God’s purpose no more. Presentation 12